Fresh off his first Player of the Week award since 2014, Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony will have his partially guaranteed veteran’s minimum contract with the team become fully guaranteed. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first broke the news.
The 35 year-old Anthony will earn the full prorated veteran’s minimum of $2.15MM for the 2019/20 season. Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter) that Portland, a taxpaying team this season, will only pay $1.36MM of the $2.15MM owed. The NBA will reimburse the Blazers for the remaining balance of that sum. With $148MM committed in salaries, the Blazers have the highest payroll for 2019/20.
After an uncomfortable 10 games with the Rockets as a bench scorer last season, Anthony was offloaded by Houston to the Bulls who subsequently waived him. The 10-time All-Star would not see hardwood action again until being conscripted as an emergency front court addition for the injury-plagued Blazers, one year and 11 days after his last NBA game.
Portland had until January 7 to fully guarantee the deal, but Anthony’s terrific recent play at a position of need made this a no-brainer for Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey and the rest of the Blazers’ front office. Blazers head coach Terry Stotts commended Anthony on ESPN Radio’s Spain and Company, according to Wojnarowski’s report: “He’s been the breath of fresh air for us that we needed.”
In eight games as the Blazers’ starting power forward, Anthony is averaging 16.9 points and 5.9 rebounds in 31 minutes a night. He is shooting a stellar 44.8% from the floor, including 38.7% from deep on 3.9 attempts per game. Portland is 4-4 since enlisting ‘Melo.
Anthony’s comeback has not gone unnoticed around the NBA. His fellow 2003 draftee, LeBron James (taken No. 1 to Melo’s No. 3 selection), commented to The Athletic’s Bill Oram and Jason Quick that Anthony’s resilient performance in Portland has been “a beautiful thing. Beautiful thing. Only the strong survive.”